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The Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card is a student credit card with no annual fee, a nice sign-up bonus (compared with other student credit cards), and a fairly generous rewards program that mirrors the “grown-up” Citi Rewards+? Card. Like Rewards+, the Rewards+ Student Card’s reward currency is the ThankYou point, which can be redeemed for almost anything, including cash, at the Citi ThankYou portal. Points are generally worth $0.005 to $0.01 apiece at redemption, depending on how they’re used.
When you spend at least $500 in purchases on your card within 3 months of opening your account, you earn 2,500 bonus ThankYou points. That’s worth up to $25 when redeemed for a gift card at thankyou.com.
Earning ThankYou Rewards
This earns an 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at supermarkets and gas stations, up to the first $6,000 in combined category spending per year. All other purchases earn an unlimited 1 point per $1 spent, including supermarket and gas station purchases above the $6,000 annual spending cap.
On every purchase, Citi rounds point earnings up to the nearest 10, turning (for example) a purchase that would normally earn 46 points into a 50-point purchase.
Redeeming ThankYou Rewards
ThankYou points are redeemable for anything offered at Citi’s ThankYou portal. Redemption options include general merchandise, travel and transportation (with no blackout dates), statement credits, gift cards, direct purchases with major merchants like Amazon and Best Buy, and more.
Gift card redemptions generally offer the best value for your points – they require 1 point per $0.01 in gift card face value, and the redemption minimum starts at 2,500 points ($25 value). General merchandise redemptions typically value ThankYou points between $0.005 and $0.01 and have variable minimums. Other redemption options assign variable values to points – check the ThankYou portal for up-to-date information.
On every redemption up to the first 100,000 points redeemed each year, you’ll get a 10% points bonus deposited back into your rewards account. So, if you redeem 3,000 points, you’ll receive 300 points back.
This card has a 7-month 0% purchase APR promotion.
There is no annual fee. The foreign transaction fee is 3% of the total transaction amount, while the balance transfer fee is the greater of $5 or 4% of the transferred amount. The cash advance fee is the greater of $10 or 5% of the transferred amount, and late and returned payments cost up to $39 each.
This card requires good credit. A few minor blemishes on your credit report aren’t likely to disqualify you from this card, but major issues could be problematic.
- No Annual Fee. This card has no annual fee. That’s great news for budget-conscious college students who don’t want to pay for the privilege of building their credit.
- Has a Sign-up Bonus. The Rewards+ Student Card has a sign-up bonus worth up to $25 when redeemed for gift cards. While that doesn’t sound like a lot, it’s better than student cards that lack sign-up bonuses altogether.
- Solid Intro Purchase APR Promotion. This card has a 7-month 0% purchase APR promotion, which is great for students who need to spend big on textbooks, dorm furniture, clothing, and other items at the start of the semester. Journey Student Credit Card and the Upromise MasterCard both lack intro purchase APR promotions.
- Solid Rewards Program for a Student Card. The Rewards+ Student Card for College Students earns ThankYou points at the same rate as the grown-up Rewards+ Card, and offers the same super-versatile redemption options, along with the same round-up policy on point earnings and 10% redemption bonus on the first 100,000 points redeemed each year.
- Limited Credit Education & Support. The Citi Rewards+ Student Card doesn’t have much in the way of credit-related educational content for cardholders, nor does it provide regular FICO credit score updates. Since many college students have limited experience with credit cards, and many are actively in the process of building their personal credit, these amount to significant drawbacks. Discover it Student Cash Back and Discover it Chrome for Students provide personal credit scores at regular intervals. Journey has a substantial amount of credit-related content as well.
- No Intro Balance Transfer APR Promotion. This card doesn’t have an introductory balance transfer promotion. That’s a bummer for students who have existing credit card debt loads. If you’re looking to transfer high-interest balances from another student card, consider the Discover it student cards, which have 6-month balance transfer promotions.
- Has a Foreign Transaction Fee. The Rewards+ Student Card imposes a 3% fee on all foreign transactions. This is a drawback for those who study abroad or take spring break trips to other countries. Discover it for Students and Discover it Chrome for Students both waive foreign transaction fees.
- Has a Penalty APR. This card comes with a penalty APR of 29.99%, applicable indefinitely once you miss a payment due date. This is a big drawback for students who occasionally miss payments and can significantly add to the cost of card ownership during a time of life when most people have very little budgetary wiggle room. The Discover student cards both forgo penalty interest.
- Not for Students with Poor or Fair Credit. To qualify for this card, you must have good credit. Though Citi doesn’t require excellent credit (unlike for the flagship Rewards+ Card), good credit is actually a higher standard than some student credit cards.
Though student credit cards aren’t always marketed as tools for establishing a credit history and building good credit, many college students use them to do just that. But it’s important to remember that not all student credit cards are ideal for building credit. There tends to be an inverse relationship between favorable student credit card terms, including generous rewards programs, and suitability for students with poor or spotty credit. The more generous the card, the more strict its credit requirements are likely to be.
Unfortunately for students who lack solid credit (or much of a credit history at all), the Citi Rewards+℠ Student Card is a fairly generous student card that’s not suitable for credit newbies. If you’ve never had a credit card before, set your sights on a starter card, use it responsibly, and pay off your balances on time. Then, when your credit score has improved, try applying for a Citi rewards card.